Upper Training Academies

Former FCB Player Jordi Martinez
Former FCB Player Jordi Martinez

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US Soccer Training Center
US Soccer Training Center

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More than a Game
More than a Game

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Former FCB Player Jordi Martinez
Former FCB Player Jordi Martinez

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"At the former Brentwood Soccer Club we ran one of the first True Academies in TN, that I'm aware of, in one particular age group from U09 up to U15. We were constantly assessing players and allowed for appropriate player movement throughout the year in both training and games. All the teams (there were 4 total) trained at the same place and at the same time.  Players understood that with hard work and by implementing what they were learning in training that they could move up to the next level. These players (and their parents) also understood that there was potential to move down to the team below. Parents and players bought into this model and often moving 'down' was a more positive experience for the player at that particular stage of their development as a young soccer player. There are countless examples of players who worked their way up from the fourth to first team over this time period and of players who may have moved up and down several times as they grew and developed. That age group produced the first boys team in TN to qualify and compete in the US Youth National League at U15, 5 of the players received scholarships to Development Academies, 16 of the players from this original Academy (U12 -U15) signed with D1 programs and many others are currently playing in D2, D3 or NAIA. Countless others developed a passion for the game that will stay with them for life. The Academy model works when it is truly focused on individual player development and when parents support the process.  

Our new Academy structure is even better because our Academies will span more than one age group and because we are limiting the Academy sizes to maintain quality and consistency throughout...there is also significantly less unnecessary travel involved!"

NUSA DOC Robbie Stewart

For 2017/18, NUSA is excited to announce that our Academy training structure, currently only in the clubs younger age groups, will now expand to our entire club.


NUSA's new Academy training structure includes four Academy lead coaches. These Academy lead coaches are four of the most experienced, well qualified and respected in Middle TN.




U13/14 Girls

Coach Scottie Davidson


U13/14 Boys

Giles Cheevers


U15/16 Girls

Coach Alan O’Connor


U15/16 Boys

Coach Alan O’Connor


U17/18 Girls

Coach Wade Wonderlin


U17/18 Boys

Coach Wade Wonderlin



NUSA DOC Robbie Stewart states that this new Academy training structure “will ensure that all players in the club experience training with our lead coaches.  This keeps the emphasis on quality and consistency throughout the entire organization. We are also limiting the size of our upper academies so that each and every player will get the same individual focus and attention to detail from our Academy lead coaches during training sessions."


In NUSA’s Upper Academies there are defined teams per TSSA rules.  NUSA will set a limit of 4 teams in each upper academy.  “These teams will greatly benefit from training at the same location, with and against each other and under the guidance of the Academy lead.” says Robbie, “All teams and players will experience functional training weekly with the Academy Lead Coach as well as their qualified assigned coach.”


“NUSA’s emphasis on individual player development prevents players from getting 'lost' in the club as they continue to grow and develop,” says Robbie Stewart.


Per TSSA rules, the club may provide opportunities, though limited in State League competition, for player movement between teams during the season. When it's deemed beneficial for their development, players may be assessed and encouraged to train or play with older teams or older Academies.


NUSA’s Upper Academy Teams will compete in Tennessee State League (TSL), local friendlies and ‘Super’ Friendlies. Upper Academy teams will not play every weekend, though will often have Saturday morning training sessions on their off weekends. NUSA avoids unnecessary travel and tournaments, particularly below U16. Our Academies below U16 mostly ‘stay local, play local.' NUSA's training environment will consistently challenge our players in many ways. We can play games on age imposing various game restrictions, challenges, or objectives or simply play against older, stronger teams. Our U19’s often play in the local adult league for this very reason. Avoiding unnecessary travel also keeps the game affordable and accessible while allowing families occasional weekends off!!


Some showcase events may certainly be deemed appropriate for our U16 and above Academy teams, though we have already shown that our players will still receive recognition from Colleges and Universities as well as US Soccer Training Centers without unnecessary tournaments and travel. Many NUSA players have received soccer based scholarships to play in College or University since we formed in 2015!


Our goal in the Upper Academies is to achieve a 3:1 training to games ratio and this will be factored into team scheduling. There will be additional training opportunities offered throughout the week for our players including technical training, shooting and finishing and goalkeeping.


Claudio Reyna, National Soccer Hall of Fame player — and Jason Kreis' boss at NYCFC — puts it best: “For me, it’s irrelevant if coaches win state cups, regional cups, and national cups. How many trophies they have in their cabinet isn’t important. It’s about the kids, it’s not about you. We care about how many players you develop rather than how many tournaments you win.”


Great article from US Soccer about academies and pool play





















Thanks to NUSA’s relationship with ISL Futbol, NUSA has benefited from access to some of FC Barcelona's methodology directly from former FC Barcelona players who have spent time with our club the past two summers. These former FCB players have provided education for NUSA coaches and clinics for NUSA players. NUSA's training curriculum and philosophy is based around the philosophies and principles learned from these former FCB players and current UEFA Pro Licensed coaches.


Training Environment


Training will be comprised of technical training, small sided games, patterns of play and functional game based situational training. The emphasis will be on small sided game play and functional training.  Restrictions will often be placed within small sided games to highlight the coaching points of a session's particular topic. Functional Training and patterns of play are designed for situations and elements pertinent to players roles in the various positions on the field. We believe with this model we can improve not only a player's technical skill (ability with the ball), but also their autonomy, awareness, imagination, anticipation and creativity. Even at the most competitive level, training will be challenging yet still fun!


Click here and here for great articles on the benefits of playing small sided games.


When you arrive at Barcelona the first thing they teach is LOOK and THINK, LOOK and THINK, LOOK and THINK.  Speed is not necessarily the most important quality.
When the ball moves quickly, you are a quick player. Lift your head, move, LOOK and THINK, Look for space!!!

Think quickly, Here? No. There? No. Here? Yes. There? Yes.  All before receiving the ball.  Recognize:  Space, Space, and more Space … “Before receiving the ball”.
I think, the defenders here, so play it there. I see the space and the pass.


Rondo, Rondo, Rondo: Every Single Day. It’s the best exercise there is.  

You learn responsibility and not to lose the ball; always 1 touch.

Xavi Hernandez (FC Barcelona)


Training Methodology


Nashville United Soccer Academy will primarily use the "Guided Discovery" method of coaching.  

This method involves "guiding" players and letting them "discover" the learning objectives of a particular session.  This style of coaching encourages the players to become more involved and take ownership and responsibility in understanding the reasons why they do certain things on the soccer pitch.
We want to develop "self-thinking players" capable of making their own decisions on the field with limited instruction from the coach. 

Below is a link to more information on Guided Discovery:

Soccer Savvy Players


"Soccer is simple, but it is difficult to play simple.”



"Our current model has already proven successful, with many players in the past two years committing to play collegiately from D1 to NAIA. Countless others have graduated from the club with a passion for the beautiful game and valuable life skills that will last a lifetime! We are looking forward to more successes, both on and off the field in 2017 with our new Academy Training structure and excellent coaching staff.”

NUSA DOC Robbie Stewart